Sunday, March 11, 2018

Red Sparrow, Annihilation, A Fantastic Woman, The Insult Reviews

Red Sparrow
Dir. Francis Lawrence
Watch Trailer

One of the oldest spy movie cliches is the love affair between two secret agents. From classics like Hitchcock's Notorious in 1946 to more modern fare like 2016's Allied, it's a well that's been run pretty dry by this point. But that didn't stop the dynamic Hunger Games duo Francis Lawrence and Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) from adding to the pile with Red Sparrow, a thriller based on the book of the same name. In this case it's a Russian and an American spy cautiously eyeing each other in a dull, lifeless game of "can we trust each other?"

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Predicting the 90th Academy Awards [UPDATED]

The Oscars are almost here! The biggest, most glamorous movie awards ceremony is celebrating its 90th anniversary this Sunday (March 4th, 8:00pm EST!), and even though it's way cooler to not care about it, I'm kind of obsessed with Oscar season. While I'm disappointed in some key snubs (The Florida Project deserves much better), I'm glad to see "offbeat" genre movies like Get Out and The Shape of Water making a big splash (literally in the latter case).

This year also marks one of the most diverse Oscars ever - with the 5th-ever female director nominated (Greta Gerwig) and the 5th-ever black director nominated (Jordan Peele, who also made history by also being nominated for Picture and Original Screenplay). There's also the first female ever nominated for cinematography (Mudbound), and the first trans director for the documentary Strong Island.

The Oscars may not be so white anymore, but the real question is who will get the gold? Below are my predictions - leave yours in the comments to play along!

* = I haven't watched it yet

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther, The Greatest Showman, Paddington 2, Hostiles Reviews

Black Panther
Dir. Ryan Coogler
Watch Trailer

At only 31, Ryan Coogler is the youngest person so far to direct a Marvel movie. Why did the Disney brain trust invest so much good will in someone with only two other directorial features under his belt? Because those films were Fruitvale Station and Creed! Two of the best movies of their respective years, each with a fantastic sense of drama and character, I found it tough not to hype myself up for Coogler's Black Panther. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, Black Panther was the first mainstream black superhero - before Falcon or Luke Cage - and Coogler seemed like the perfect choice to bring him into the 2018 cultural zeitgeist. After the hype-dust settled, I admit that huge parts of this movie disappointed me - it's not even in the same ballpark as his previous two films - but Black Panther is still a promising new direction for the Marvel brand.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Post, Phantom Thread, Molly's Game, Mary and the Witch's Flower Reviews

Hello all! Welcome to my first review post of the new year. I've decided to experiment with a new rating system that may or may not simplify things. There are now only three ratings: SKIP IT, SEE IT, and WAIT FOR NETFLIX. Let me know if you like this new method or prefer the old fashioned A-F scale!

The Post
Dir. Steven Spielberg
Watch Trailer

Steven Spielberg is such an efficient, workman-like director that he made The Post while still in post-production on his upcoming special effects extravaganza Ready Player One. Not unlike the newspaper reporters depicted in the film, Spielberg's style is straightforward, sensational, and fast-paced. He's the seemingly perfect director for the material, and with a cast filled top-to-bottom with amazing talent, I thought The Post would have been a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, this intriguing true story of the Washington Post's ethical dilemma in regards to publishing the top secret Pentagon Papers feels a little too pat and easy for its own good. It lacks the paranoia of All the President's Men, the authenticity of Spotlight, and the urgency of Citizenfour, settling for a hum-drum, nicely polished history lesson.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

Looking back at my "Most Anticipated of 2017" list, out of 10 movies only 1 landed on my "top ten" of the year list (Okja), 4 I found heartily enjoyable (Coco, Logan, A Cure for WellnessBaby Driver), 2 I found mildly underwhelming (Guardians Vol. 2Alien: Covenant), 2 I outright didn't like despite critical praise (Blade Runner 2049, The Last Jedi), and 1 got bumped to 2018 (Annihilation).  

Basically, most of the big movies set in space ended up disappointing me. So, being burnt out on Treks and Wars, this upcoming year I'm mostly hyped for smaller, dramatic movies. The following are the top ten movies I'm most looking forward to watching in 2018!

10. Stan and Ollie
Director: Jon S. Baird (Filth, Cass)
Cast: John C. Riley, Steve Coogan, Danny Huston, Shirley Henderson

Laurel and Hardy is one of the most iconic comic duos of all time, but unlike Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, there has yet to be a biopic made of their life. Stan and Ollie stars John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy (looking great in prosthetic makeup), and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel. I seriously could not imagine more spot-on casting for the legendary comedians. The film will follow the duo in their later days, during a British variety hall tour in the 1950s as the crowds are starting to dwindle. With a screenplay by Jeff Pope, who wrote one of my favorite movies of 2013, Philomena, I can only hope this is as good a comedian biopic as Man on the Moon.

Release Date: TBA

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Ten Movies of 2017!

HERE IT IS! The bane of every movie blogger: constructing a Top Ten of the Year list. This year I found that many of my favorites gravitated towards the criminally under-seen, so hopefully this post will get the word out on some great movies! Like I say most years, this is a personal top ten list, so I'm really not trying to please everyone or appear "cool" with these picks. I just tried to choose movies that had a big effect on me. Enjoy!

10. Detroit
Dir. Kathryn Bigelow

The tenth spot on any Top Ten list is always the hardest, because in effect you're bumping off a handful of other fantastic films. So to break the tie, I went with the movie that I thought most about after I left the theater. Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit shook me up - it details the night of July 23rd, 1967, when rioting took over the city and the Michigan State Police conducted a brutal raid and interrogation at the Algiers Motel.

The performances across the board are incredible; Algee Smith nails it as a young Motown artist whose life changes forever that night, Will Poulter is terrifying as a racist cop, and John Boyega is great as an African-American police officer torn between his identity as a black man and a "blue" man. Unflinchingly documentarian in style, disturbing, and all too reflective of the time we live in, Detroit is a fantastic film that shouldn't be overlooked!

Available to rent on Amazon and iTunes

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Talkies: 2017 Best and Worst Superlatives!

2017... not exactly one of our brightest years. Mass shooting records were broken, North Korea dropped some scary bombs, and many of our favorite entertainment personalities turned out to be disgusting sex fiends! But just because we might be on the brink of a nuclear holocaust doesn't mean there's nothing to celebrate - hence my 2017 movie superlatives! To honor some of the best (and worst) aspects in this year of film, I've compiled this list of 12 categories. Enjoy my 6th annual "Talkies" Awards!

BEST ACTOR - Robert Pattinson, Good Time

Not in a million years did I think Robert Pattinson would deliver my top performance of the year, but 2017 was full of surprises. In Good Time, the Twilight heartthrob is practically unrecognizable as Connie Nikas, a small-time crook, part-time scumbag who is the primary caregiver for his mentally handicapped brother, Nick. Although he loves him, Connie can't help but involve Nick in his crimes, leading to some intense consequences for both of them.

Essentially playing a modernized version of George from Of Mice and Men, Pattinson's character is a hot mess of contradictory impulses. He's both sympathetic and a scoundrel, street-smart yet ignorant, pathetic and brave, likable and deplorable. Yet all of his decisions, however misguided, are always made out of love for his brother. It's truly a complex role. I don't know where this Pattinson has been hiding all this time, but I welcome more of him.

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